With a birthday coming up, I’ve been thinking about feelings. I have a lot of them.
If there’s anything I’ve learned in my short time on this earth, it’s the importance of being in touch with yourself on an emotional level. Each interaction and experience you have sparks a certain feeling (or many feelings), and it’s important to be aware of that.
What makes us human are the emotions we experience on a regular basis. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing — it’s actually what makes life valuable.
Below are 26 (maybe you can guess which birthday it is?) feelings that you should experience at some point in your life:
1. The feeling when you travel to a new place.
There are few things more exhilarating than exploring uncharted territory, whether it’s in another country or in your own city. Science backs this up: Research shows people are happier when they spend money on experiences over material possessions.
2. The feeling after laughing so hard your stomach hurts.
It’s the best kind of high. Laughter truly is the best medicine. Studies suggest it can boost your immune system, lower blood pressure and, yes, increase your happiness levels.
3. The feeling when someone says “I love you.”
It doesn’t mater if it’s coming from your significant other, your parents or your best friend: Love is a biologically wired mind-body experience. It’s the one feeling that’s completely universal.
4. The feeling when you perform a random act of kindness.
The ability to put a smile on someone else’s face can have an impact on your happiness levels. Not to mention you’re making the world a better place in the process.
5. The feeling when someone is kind to you.
Pay it forward and keep the cycle going.
6. The feeling after speaking your mind.
Research suggests over-thinking can not only make you more stressed but stand in the way of even performing simple tasks. You have every right to express your thoughts and opinions. State them clearly and with conviction.
7. The feeling when someone just gets you.
You know the one: The peanut butter to your jelly. The Harry Potter to your Ron Weasley. The Nutella to your, well, everything. There are few feelings greater than knowing you found your person. And, as it turns out, you’re a lot better for it: A 2011 study found that hanging with BFFs can reduce stress.
8. The feeling when you fully appreciate yourself.
Research shows self acceptance is the key to a happier life, yet it’s the habit many people practice the least. Repeat after me: Self care is not selfish.
9. The feeling of heartbreak.
It’s impossible to go through life just experiencing fluffy feelings. There are gritty parts, too, including all-consuming heartache. However, those are also the moments when we learn the most about ourselves.
10. The feeling of total relaxation.
11. The feeling when you walk into your own surprise party.
What’s better than your loved ones coming together in order to make you feel special? (Answer: Nothing).
12. The feeling when you’re cuddling a cute pet.
As Charles Schulz once accurately said, “Happiness is a warm puppy.” Pets make you happier and healthier. If you want to know what unconditional love is, spend some time with a dog and you’ll see what I mean.
13. The feeling after waking up from a really good night’s sleep.
Sleep is for the strong. Waking up well-rested allows you to tackle your day with ease and enthusiasm (not to mention it makes you healthier). No one ever woke up exhausted and said, “Man, I feel spectacular.”
14. The feeling of being wrapped up in the moment.
That great concert. A deep conversation with a friend. Playing with your children on the playground. Allow yourself to live in the here and now. Presence is powerful.
15. The feeling after saying goodbye.
Let’s just put this out there: Goodbyes are terrible. But they’re a necessary part of life. You can’t go through life avoiding emotions that are painful, difficult or challenging. Because as hard as they are, they also spark change.
16. The feeling when you make a home out of a new place.
Researchers have long studied homesickness and found that it’s similar to a form of anxiety. As CNN reported, the phenomenon “stems from our instinctive need for love, protection and security — feelings and qualities usually associated with home.”
So when you finally adjust to a new environment, that longing ache for what’s familiar dissipates because your new home is what’s familiar — and that’s an exceptional form of growth.
17. The feeling of failure.
Life is not a pencil with an eraser. You cannot go through it without making permanent mistakes. It’s how you make changes after them that builds your character and helps you ultimately find success.
18. The feeling after a really good workout.
You can’t fight science: Endorphins are real. You’re happier after you exercise, simple as that.
19. The feeling of anger.
Stifling anger isn’t necessarily good for your well-being. Sometimes it’s a call to action. That doesn’t mean you need to punch the person who made you upset, but it might be a sign that you need to reevaluate the circumstances (and the person) that got you to that place. Never ignore things that give you a reaction.
20. The feeling when you make a new friend.
High fives all around. That bond isn’t all in your head. Studies show social connection lights up the reward center in your brain.
21. The feeling of success.
Doesn’t matter if it’s big or small, you deserve to feel a sense of accomplishment. Need a trick on getting there? Write it down. Research shows it will help you stay accountable.
22. The feeling of acceptance.
There’s a certain warmth that comes with belonging. That doesn’t just go for others but for yourself (see the aforementioned feeling of appreciating yourself). You are your own biggest cheerleader.
23. The feeling of landing your dream job.
Employees are happier when they’re engaged at work. You spend a good chunk of your waking hours at your job. You deserve to have it feel satisfying.
24. The feeling of validation.
This emotion you can easily give to yourself. Don’t let others confirm who you are. Your opinions are valid. Your work is valid. And, yes, your feelings are valid.
25. The feeling of being alone.
That’s not to be confused with loneliness. There’s solace to be found in being by yourself and enjoying your own company. Alone time is healthy for your mental well-being. You’re pretty awesome. Why wouldn’t you want to hang out with yourself?
26. The feeling of complete happiness.
Because above all else you deserve to feel joy. No matter what.
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